“A Rose for Emily” Short Story by William Faulkner


William Faulkner, one of the notable American short story writers, was born in an old southern family in 1897. He grew up in Oxford, Mississippi. He joined the Canadian and British Royal air force during the First World War. First volume of his published works was ‘Snopes Triology’. He died in1962. Last piece of his published work was named “The reivers”. He evaluated their ability and inability to change with time. (A Rose for Emily).

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Faulkner’s short story, A Rose for Emily has been subjected to various criticisms as it involves many literary elements. When one evaluates the story on the basis of formalist criticism, one can see that the writer has adopted a very different approach in writing it. The structure of the story is somewhat different from the traditional style of writing as it begins with the death of its main character, Emily Grierson. It is only after referring to the death of Emily that the author portrays her background. The story then moves to the past, revealing Emily’s perturbed life. Though the story lacks its traditional structure, it is praiseworthy in the use of the language especially when enjoying the story told by an unknown narrator. The plot of the story is different from the linear fashion as it reveals action bit by bit divided into five sections. “Faulkner used symbolism and a unique narrative perspective to describe Miss Emily’s inner struggles to accept time and change.” (A Rose for Emily).

When the story is brought under biographical criticism, one can find its direct connection with writer, Faulkner. The city, Jefferson, where the main character of the story resides is the native place of Faulkner. His fictional county, Yoknapatawpha often appears in the story and he was very much influenced with the history of his family.

One can regard Rose for Emily as the psychological study of the character of Emily and the story reveals the attitude of the writer towards a conventional spinster. She suffers from her dejected love with Homer Baron and the death of her father. These two incidents torment her very much and it leads to her depression or to mental abstraction. It may be the depressed state that tempts her to keep the dead body of Homer for some days without being noticed by others. After reading the story, the readers get confused in properly diagnosing the character of Emily.

Historical perspective of the story does not bring any comparatives in the story; except the reference of the town Jefferson, which is the native place of the writer. Another historical study is possible with the method of story telling that to an extent moves in a flash back method.

If one evaluates the story in accordance with the reader-response criticism, the notable feature of the story is that it is capable of arousing a sense of attachment to the main character, Emily. Though the readers are a little bit confused about the extraordinary presentation of the story, especially at the beginning when it refers to the death of Emily, they find it interesting in the end.


The deconstructive criticism of the story interprets it as a text which changes itself in meaning, divided into five sections. Each section of the text is capable of arousing the anxiety and sympathy towards Emily, the main character. However it is not possible for one to claim that the story succeeds in creating the real effect.

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The gender criticism exposes the prominent role of the female character that was forced to face the trials of the world in which she lived. It is also possible to read the story by keeping a feminist view.

After evaluating the story on the basis of these literary theories, one feels that the psychological criticism is apt to analyze it properly. As it is the study of Emily’s mind, one can infer that it the theory that best suits to Rose for Emily.

Works Cited

A Rose for Emily: Antebellum South vs. Modern South. Oppapers.com: Research papers and Essays for All.

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